SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is very important when marketing a web site. After all, searches are still the primary way for your clients to find you online. There are lots of things YOU can do to ensure that your site is optimized.
Unfortunately, in order to cut corners or maximize budget, many marketers will resort to some practices that do more harm than good. The worst part about this approach is that they probably don’t even realize they’re making a huge mistake.
Most of these mistakes fall under the category of Black Hat SEO (also known as Spamdexing). These are tactics used to gain visibility in search engines by trying to “buck the system.” The search engines get wise to this very quickly and will punish these sites by dropping rankings or blacklisting them altogether.
We put together this quick list of 3 common mistakes that Do-It-Yourself SEO marketers make:
1 – Bogus link exchanges or bad outbound links…
Mistake…You may have seen ads for these services in your inbox. Basically companies will send out email blasts and place ads on web sites promoting a link exchange service for some ridiculously low price.
There may be some of these that are legit, but we haven’t seen them. They set you up so you’re automatically listed as a link on a bunch of web sites in exchange for you showing a list of links on your site.
The problem is that once you sign up this happens automatically. The list in question that is posted on your site… SPAM mostly. You end up with links to mortgage services or gambling sites or worse. And this will result in a rapid fall in rankings and possibly blacklisting.
A better approach… Instead of going for an “easy button” approach, try building a linking strategy. Links to and from your web site can be a very effective way to build improve search engine visibility.
Try spending some time each week looking for industry-related sites that your target audience would find useful. You can create a resources section on your site for these links. In addition to this, consider adding links to useful web sites throughout your content where appropriate.
To get your site listed on other sites, try submitting articles or Blog posts to industry or topic specific web sites. Make sure you are listed on your organization sites, like Chambers, Associations and anything where you are a member. Social media is another way to get links to your site out there. And, of course, ask to be listed on web sites where it would benefit you to be listed.
The general rule of thumb is to make sure that the places where you are listed relate in some way to what it is you do and what is important to your target audience.
2 – Keyword stuffing…
Mistake… Some marketers tend to have selective hearing when it comes to keywords. They hear that keywords are important and it stops there. What they miss is that keywords need to appear logically within the content and code.
Instead, marketers just load their web site with the keywords that they think are important wherever they can. Your content becomes unreadable and looks like a list of nonsense.
Worse than that, your site is now entering Black Hat territory. If search engines suspect you are pumping your content full of keywords for no other reason than for rankings, they will most likely blacklist you, or at the very least, you will lose rankings FAST.
A better approach… This is simple, your site’s content needs to be written for your target audience, not just for search engines. You want to be mindful of the words you use and how they appear (See our article on SEO).
When writing or updating your content, it helps to have your target keyword list handy. Refer to this list as you write content and try to insert these words into that content. However, make sure that the words you insert belong there. Do they make sense and add to the relevance of the content as it relates to the needs of the reader?
There are other areas of the site, within the code specifically, where you can add more keywords. You have to be careful here as well, making sure that the keywords are added correctly and that they relate to the content on that page.
3 – Duplicate content…
Mistake… Duplicating content can be a legitimate and useful practice. You may present newsletters or press releases as PDFs and HTML for different uses. That content may also appear in other web sites for legitimate reasons.
Where you need to be careful is how you are using content from other sites on your web site. The problem is using content, with or without permission, that appears identical to what exists on the site where it originates. Lots of spammers will do this and search engines have been fighting the practice.
A better approach… Your best bet, when you have permission, is to use a small portion of the content within your own content. Quote or reference certain portions of the content without completely copying the original.
With your own content, it is fine to reuse content in other areas, but you might want to rework it a bit to be sure it makes sense in the location where you are duplicating it. This is where you need to spend some time crafting useful content site-wide and not just copying and pasting content to increase keyword density.
Submitting your articles for duplication is fine, just be sure that the sites to which you are submitting are appropriate to what it is that you do. And make sure that the sites that publish your content give you credit and a link back to your site.
There are other examples of Black Hat SEO and other mistakes you can make with DIY SEO. The point is to become aware of what works and what doesn’t. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Your best bet is to consider your target audience and what they want from your site.
If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please contact us or give us a call at 301-668-5006. We can certainly help you develop a legitimate and effective SEO plan.